HISTORY OF THE NORFOLK BOTANICAL GARDEN EAGLES
In 2002, the original female from the Norfolk Botanical eagle pair and her mate built a nest on Norfolk International Airport property near the end of the runway. That same year, that male was struck and killed by a plane so it was decided that it was too dangerous to leave their nest tree on airport property. They hoped that removing the nest and that tree would cause the female to locate farther away.
In late 2003, the female bonded with another male and the pair arrived at Norfolk Botanical Garden. These eagles, affectionately known as Mom and Dad Norfolk, built a nest in the 2003/2004 breeding season and produced their first clutch of two eggs in 2004. Both eaglets fledged that May. From 2004 through 2012, 19 eaglets were produced at nests in various trees within a small area at the Garden. For eight years, the pair was active in the Garden coexisting with the nearby airport.
In 2006, a camera was installed over the nest providing an intimate view of the eagles as they continued to nest, breed and rear their young. The online audience following the pair increased every year. Besides thousands watching online worldwide, 469 schools in 42 states–along with a school in Canada and two in the United Kingdom, registered as watching the NBG EagleCam. By then, moderators from the early years were seasoned veterans and were providing a wealth of factual information concerning eagles on the chat provided with the cam. Schools regularly arranged for live chats from their classrooms. EagleCam became an international sensation and an immensely valuable educational tool.
On April 26, 2011, the female eagle was killed when a plane landed on her when she dropped a fish at the foot of the runway at Norfolk International. She was in the process of taking food to the three eaglets in the nest. Though the male eagle did bring food to the nest after the female‘s death, it was decided that it would not be possible for him to protect the nest, feed himself and feed three eaglets who were almost adult size. So on April 27, 2011, the eaglets were moved to the Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro where they were successfully raised and were released back into the wild on July 26, 2011.
In September of 2012, the male was seen with the first of four females who were vying to become his new mate. There were pitted battles over the nest, and the current female (#3) kept returning after several females temporarily seemed to secure their position. During the summer of 2012, only she remained and she and Dad Norfolk continue as a bonded pair today.
The pair started to rebuild the 2011 nest until its removal by the USDA. On October 4, 2012 two nests were removed including the 2011 nest. Additional nests were removed on December 18, 2012, and January 11, February 8, March 5 and March 29 of 2013.
Their favored trees, old growth Loblolly pines, have had perfectly healthy limbs removed to try to discourage nesting. The pair continues to return to the same area. In spite of attempts to dissuade them by using tree modification, loud noises and even paintball guns, our eagles continue to try to call the Garden their home.
Our beloved Bald Eagles continue to fight for their territory and so will Eagle On Alliance.